Disney Epic Mickey (also known as Disney Epic Mickey: Mickey Mouse and the Magic Brush in Japan) is a platform game for Wii, designed by Deus Ex creator, Warren Spector. The game was released on November 25, 2010 in Europe, November 30, 2010 in North America, and August 4, 2011 in Japan.
"On a very peculiar day," a then-virtually unknown and recently-created Mickey Mouse, out of curiosity, enters Yen Sid's workshop through a mirror in his house and discovers the model of the land Yen Sid created and the tool used to create it, the magic paintbrush. Mischievously fiddling with the brush and some paint to make a three-dimensional self-portrait, Mickey accidentally creates the Shadow Blot. Panicking, Mickey apparently erases the Blot by throwing paint thinner onto it, but spills more paint on the model in the process. Upon seeing Yen Sid approaching, Mickey quickly tries to clean up the mess, but in his haste, spills thinner onto the paint spillage as he flees back to his house, while the Blot, having survived Mickey's attempt to destroy it, enters through a portal created by the paint/thinner mixture (taking a jug of thinner with him) and takes control of the ruined world from its first resident and ruler, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
After many decades of real-world fame following the accident, Mickey has completely forgotten the incident until the Shadow Blot enters his home through the mirror and abducts him into the ruined forgotten world, now named by this time as the Wasteland. Oswald all the while had his will and his mind twisted from years of hiding and his jealousy of Mickey's rise to fame, unaware the enigmatic Mad Doctor and the Blot formulate a plan to destroy Mickey and extract his heart, which they plan to use to escape the ruined world, as all Wasteland Toons are forgotten and thus no longer have hearts of their own. During his journey through the Wasteland, Mickey is guided by Gremlin Gus and becomes armed with Yen Sid's brush. Mickey uses the brush to restore the Wasteland in order to atone for his destruction and win a frustrated Oswald's trust.
After defeating a fake Blot (Oswald revealed the Shadow Blot Mickey fought along with all the Blotlings he encountered were drippings of the real Blot), Mickey eventually comes to terms with his actions and reveals all to Oswald, who loses his temper. While jumping angrily on the cork sealing the jug of thinner, Oswald accidentally causes the cork to break, allowing the true form of the Shadow Blot — a giant specter constructed from paint thinner — to escape his prison into the world. Oswald soon reveals that he and his girlfriend, Ortensia, attempted to seal the Blot away in the bottle, but Ortensia was blighted by the Blot in the process and entered an inert state. The Blot takes Oswald and Gus, threatening to kill them if Mickey does not allow the Blot to take his heart. Mickey yields his heart to the Blot, who then proceeds to destroy the Wasteland before moving on to the Disney universe to wreak havoc there, but Mickey, Oswald and Gus successfully manage to destroy the Blot, eliminating his exterior with paint-laden fireworks, and rescue Mickey's heart from the inside. Oswald reunites with Ortensia and befriends Mickey, the two now possibly bonding with each other as brothers. With the Wasteland now slowly regenerating, Mickey escapes back to Yen Sid's workshop and returns home through the mirror, which becomes sealed by Yen Sid to prevent Mickey from entering again and cause any more mischief.
Regardless of what choices Mickey made in the Wasteland (Yen Sid shows Mickey the positive outcomes or consequences of his major choices in the game), the ending after the credits is the same: Not long after the mirror is sealed, Mickey discovers that he still has some of the Shadow Blot's ink in him, leaving the possibility he may still be able to reach the Wasteland — which he will.
The initial plans were developed in a think-tank session in 2004 about how best to renew Mickey Mouse in the eyes of the public. The Wasteland concept and Oswald and the Phantom Blot as antagonists were part of this initial pitch and the project became a factor in Disney getting Oswald back from Universal that year. Warren Spector was signed on the project in 2005 after reluctantly pitching some original game ideas to Disney Interactive, as suggested by his agent. Spector was asked if he was interested in working on the Mickey project. Though he was skeptical that Disney would just continue watering down Mickey as they had for many years he was convinced when told he would be allowed to help renew the character. Given full-access to the archives for inspiration on the Wasteland's setting, Warren Spector developed the game further into a hybrid platformer/roleplaying game with player's choices being a huge influence in how the story would turn out. During very early stages of development, Junction Point planned to Epic Mickey on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and either have another developer handle a Wii port or design a separate version of the game, but the decision was made to make it a Wii exclusive due to the motion controls and the ease of developing for a single console.
Concept art leaked in the Summer of 2009 showed a large aquatic transport: a gigantic narwhal with the Earful Tower, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and a decaying Spaceship Earth on its back. Another rendering shows a beach under attack by large mechanical versions of the Seven Dwarfs, with tea cups and giant arms on their backs. One rendering shows a machine, zombie-like, one-armed Goofy, with another depicting a scorpion-like robot with the damaged head and torn-open face of an Audio-Animatronic Big Al. In one rendering, a Tomorrowland amidst a dystopian cityscape is seen, with the TWA Moonliner (adorned with the face of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit), the World Clock, Space Mountain, and Astro Orbitor. Many of these pieces of concept art stirred excitement for a darker and grittier Mickey Mouse game than what was eventually released. However, according to Spector, these pieces of concept art were never intended to be released, and were never truly considered for the game, but rather were to test how far Disney would allow them to take the darker aspects of the game. The wraparound cover art for the November 2009 issue of GameInformer features artwork from Epic Mickey, showing Mickey from behind, armed with a paint brush, about to take on the Phantom Blot. Disneyland's Haunted Mansion and "it's a small world" can be seen in the background. If one looks closely, he can see Oswald hiding behind a rock.
The game was originally slated for a late-2011 release, but development was cut by a whole year.The game was released in November 2010 and was later localized for the Japanese market in August 2011 by Spike Chunsoft and published by Nintendo.
Mickey's primary ability with interacting with the world is a paintbrush that allows him to paint things in or erase parts of the world. How he uses these abilities and how he interacts with characters determines the path of the journey and what kind of hero you become, be it someone that's always helpful, constantly causing mischief or somewhere in between, initially illustrated with a Hero/Wastelander/Scrapper model system until some negative test response to Scrapper caused an emphasis on characters called "Guardians" that will allow you to use Paint or Thinner more effectively. The World is divided into three types of maps: Quest Zones, Transition Zones and Action Zones. Quest Zones act as hubs of activity where you meet characters, go on quests and disembark into the main Action Zones where you fight enemies and go on larger missions. The Transition Zones are 2D Side-scrolling levels based on animated shorts that serve as a means of getting around the Wasteland, sometimes giving an idea of where you'll turn up.
- Ventureland (Based on Adventureland and featuring Pirates of the Caribbean, The Enchanted Tiki Room and Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse elements)
- Mean Street (Based on Main Street, U.S.A.)
- OsTown (Based on Mickey's Toontown)
- Bog Easy (Based on New Orleans Square and featuring Pirates of the Caribbean elements)
- Gremlin Village (Based on It's a Small World and featuring the Mad Tea Party and Dumbo the Flying Elephant)
- Pirates of the Wasteland (Based on Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan)
- Lonesome Manor (Based on multiple incarnations of The Haunted Mansion)
- Dark Beauty Castle (Opening and closing level. Based on Sleeping Beauty Castle.)
- Mickeyjunk Mountain (Based on Matterhorn Bobsleds and Mickey merchandise)
- Tomorrow City (Based on Tomorrowland)
Cartoons Featured as Transition Levels
- Oh What a Knight
- Steamboat Willie
- Jungle Rhythm
- Clock Cleaners
- Alpine Climbers
- Lonesome Ghosts
- Great Guns
- The Mad Doctor
- Mickey and the Beanstalk
- The Castaway
- Haunted House
- Mickey's Mechanical Man
- The Whalers
- Sleeping Beauty
- Thru the Mirror
- Fantasia (The Sorcerer's Apprentice)
- Trolley Troubles
- Ye Olden Days
- Mickey's Steamroller
- Bret Iwan - Mickey Mouse
- Frank Welker - Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, The Shadow Blot
- Bob Joles - Gremlin Gus
- Audrey Wasilewski - Ortensia
- Dave Wittenberg - The Mad Doctor
- Corey Burton - Yen Sid
- Jim Cummings - Big Bad Pete, Pete Pan, Small Pete, Petetronic
- Bill Farmer - Animatronic Goofy, Horace Horsecollar
- Tony Anselmo - Animatronic Donald
- Tress MacNeille - Animatronic Daisy
- April Winchell - Clarabelle Cow
- Jeff Bennett - Mr. Smee
- Dominic Keating - Gremlin Prescott
- James Patrick Stuart - Gremlin Sparks
- Additional Voices - Roger Craig Smith, Benoît Allemane, Adam Creighton, Greg Ellis, Nancy Linari, Jim Meskimen, Jon Olson, José Padilla, Enn Reitel, Eliza Schneider, Josh Robert Thompson, Jim Ward, and Joe Smith as Various
Besides the game, Disney developed several Digicomics as well as comics written by Peter David, including an adaptation of the game and Tales of the Wasteland, a miniseries that showed events taking place before the game. Tales of the Wasteland was digitally distributed only for IOS. There was also a book called The Art of Epic Mickey.
Epic Mickey received mixed to positive reviews,with a score of 72.57% on GameRankings and 73/100 on Metacritic.
IGN gave it a score of 8/10, criticizing its camera, control issues and lack of voice acting, but praised its charm, story, art design, and lasting appeal for the players. Video game talk show Good Game's two presenters gave the game a 6/10 and 7/10. They compared the paintbrush abilities to that of the water jet pack from Super Mario Sunshine and found it frustrating how the levels reset back to their original state after leaving. But on a positive note they said it "isn't as 'dark' or 'adult' as the hype made it out to be... I guess it is a kid's game after all, but at least it's an intelligent one. It doesn't come anywhere near the complexity and fun of something like Super Mario Sunshine, which I think it borrows some ideas from." Shirley Chase from GameZone complimented the game on its usage of Disney history, but added that the game had numerous flaws saying, "For all of its good points, Disney Epic Mickey does have some glaring flaws, which can make the game feel like a chore. The most noticeable problem is the camera, which will lead to more cheap deaths than anything else." In a review for GamesRadar, Chris Antista who began the article as an admitted "diehard Disney dork", praised it as a "thoroughly heartwarming salute to Disney" and that he hasn't "fallen so head over heels with the look, feel, and play of a third-person platformer since the original Banjo-Kazooie. G4TV also named it "Best Wii Game.", Giant Bomb gave a Negative review with 2/5 stars saying "Nevermind these heightened expectations, though: even on its own merits, Epic Mickey is a platformer that feels about a generation behind, though one with just enough flashes of inspiration to keep you constantly aware of its wasted potential".
In its opening weekend, Epic Mickey failed to reach the UK Top 40 and the Wii Top 10 sales charts after its November 26 UK release. On November 30, 2010, the release date in North America, the game was completely sold out on the Disney Store website by the afternoon. The game sold 1.3 million copies its first month. As of June 2011, the game sold 2 million copies in North America and Europe combined.
- Main article: Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
On August 27, 2011, it was leaked that a sequel was in the works titled Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two when Disney marketing polls revealed four potential covers and some working titles. Information suggests the game to be a multi-console affair and incorporate co-op play between Mickey and Oswald. The game was released on November 18, 2012. A third game, a Nintendo 3DS-exclusive titled Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, based partially on Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse, was released alongside the second game on the same day, and serves as a companion to the second game.
- Aside from the Transition Areas being the most obvious places to find them, as well as the fact that Mickey sports his original design, references to various Disney media can be found all over the game. These include the following:
- The opening sequence features Mickey discovering Yen Sid's workshop, and the miniature display of Disneyland that eventually becomes The Wasteland, by walking straight into a mirror above his fireplace and emerging from the other side. This is a reference to the classic Mickey cartoon, Thru the Mirror.
- The Lonesome Manor area features several ghosts that resemble the title characters from Lonesome Ghosts. The radio from Thru the Mirror can also be found in this area in a shack.
- Meanwhile, the phone can be found in the Wasteland's version of Mickey's house in Ostown
- The Partners statue that can be found at multiple Disney Parks can be seen at the end of Mean Street. However, instead of Mickey, Walt Disney is seen holding Oswald the Lucky Rabbit's hand.
- Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar, two characters from the Mickey Mouse universe who have not been seen as much as they used to, can be found in Mean Street and Ostown, respectively. Horace is operating a detective station in Mean Street, meanwhile, Clarabelle lives in Ostown with gardening and baking as her hobbies. Even Mickey himself has forgotten about them.
- Petetronic, especially his appearance and boss battle, is a reference to Tron. The battle arena itself resembles the building that houses Space Mountain, though it has texture design of the environments featured in Tron.
- The Sorcerer's Apprentice segment of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 is referenced multiple times, with the most notable one being that Yen Sid plays a notable role as both the narrator and the creator of what becomes The Wasteland, which is once again, a conflict caused by Mickey's curiosity. A rendition of the famous tune of the same name that was featured in this cartoon can also be heard as Yen Sid paints the display. An enemy in the game also resembles the Magic Brooms that Mickey brought to life.
- In the Lonesome Manor, specifically in the library where you assist Madam Leota, a statue of a lion can be seen. The statue itself resembles the adult Simba from The Lion King.
- A Super NES cartridge of Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse, alongside plenty of other Mickey-related merchandise, can be found in Mickeyjunk Mountain. This game also featured many 2D levels based on Mickey's most notable cartoons.
- Oswald's bodyguards at Mickeyjunk Mountain are playing cards, originating from Thru the Mirror as a reference to Alice in Wonderland. It should also be noted that his hideout also serves as a shrine to his failed career that he believed Mickey stole from him.
- The titular antagonist of The Mad Doctor plays a major role as an antagonist in the game, but the fact that he exists in the first place is questionable, as his original appearance was just a figment of Mickey's imagination in a dream, and has not previously been referenced as an actual character that Mickey has met before.
- All of the characters in the Pirates of the Wasteland area are based on the pirates from Peter Pan. Mr. Smee himself even makes an appearance as a quest-giver, asking for Mickey's help to restore Captain Hook to his former self. It's possible that none of the characters from Pirates of the Caribbean appeared because the game intended on focusing primarily on the animation side of Disney, or because the respective characters did not fit the toon style, or the family-friendly theme the game incorporated.
- It's not explained why multiple versions of Pete appear in the Wasteland, especially those that never existed.
- However, like Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar, he hasn't been frequently seen alongside the rest of the main cast of the Mickey Mouse family since House of Mouse, which might explain why his main version is shown in the game.
- Though Epic Mickey does include much of the official voice cast of Disney characters, they don't speak in full sentences, aside from the narrator, Yen Sid. In-game dialogue is communicated through text boxes and mumbling sounds in cutscenes or in conversations, commonly referred to as "bark talk" by the developers. Grunts from Mickey can also be heard while he is jumping or attacked. This was changed for the sequel, which features all of the main actors returning and doing full voice performances.
- Mickey Mouse in video games
- Mickey Mania, another Mickey video game featuring levels based on the cartoon shorts and a boss fight with the Mad Doctor
- Disney's Magical Mirror Starring Mickey Mouse, another Mickey video game that opens with Mickey going inside a mirror